My Story

“We plan to con­tin­u­ously in­vest and earn re­turns by keep­ing a strong con­nect with the fu­tur­is­tic tech­nolo­gies”—

Electronics Bazaar - - Contents - Deepak Methi, pres­i­dent, Pankaj Elec­tron­ics

My pas­sion

My pas­sion is to con­nect with dif­fer­ent kinds of peo­ple. I like to travel and meet peo­ple from dif­fer­ent nooks and cor­ners of the world. I love to ex­plore di­verse cul­tures, re­li­gions and be­liefs, since I think this acts as the best teacher in a per­son’s life. I have trav­elled to al­most 40 coun­tries. I will admit that this par­tic­u­lar pas­sion of mine has helped me grow my busi­ness man­i­fold and also nur­tured me as a hu­man be­ing. I yearn to travel fur­ther to ev­ery coun­try on this planet in my life­time, to get in­spired by the never-end­ing dis­cov­er­ies of this uni­verse and the in­domitable hu­man spirit.

How the com­pany be­gan its jour­ney

The com­pany was started in 1974 by my fa­ther, S.N. Methi, in a spare room at a rel­a­tive’s house in a res­i­den­tial colony in Delhi. Back then, he sold semi­con­duc­tors from Khan­del­wal Her­mann Elec­tron­ics, Bom­bay (as it was called back in those days). Within a year, he set up his own of­fice in Chawri Bazaar, which is Old Delhi’s hard­ware and met­als busi­ness dis­trict.

Since he was born and brought up in Mum­bai, his work­ing style was quite dif­fer­ent from that of Delhi and the turn­ing point was his de­ci­sion not to open a shop-cum-of­fice in Bha­gi­rath Palace or La­j­pat Rai Mar­ket, which were the busi­ness hubs for elec­tronic com­po­nents in those days. He did not want cus­tomers to come and buy prod­ucts at his counter; rather, he wanted to go and sell the prod­ucts to the cus­tomers. That was the dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion he wanted to bring about in his busi­ness, way back then.

From a short-term, busi­ness point of view, I be­lieve he could have done much, much bet­ter by hav­ing his shop at Bha­gi­rath Palace; but we are reap­ing the fruits of his long-term vi­sion to­day. The ap­proach of be­ing close to the cus­tomer in­creased our fo­cus on cus­tomer ser­vice con­tin­u­ously, and cre­ated this struc­tured and pro­fes­sional or­gan­i­sa­tion.

How my own jour­ney started

I joined the com­pany in 1992. At that time, we were rep­re­sent­ing the lo­cal semi­con­duc­tor man­u­fac­tur­ers —Usha Rec­ti­fiers in Farid­abad and Hind Rec­ti­fiers in Mum­bai. Our sales were con­cen­trated in and around the Delhi re­gion.

There were lim­ited ap­pli­ca­tions such as DC drives, weld­ing, bat­tery charg­ers and rec­ti­fiers, along with the re­quire­ment for spares from the steel, su­gar, ce­ment and other heavy in­dus­tries. In those days, it was worth our while to visit re­mote fac­to­ries just to sell a few spares of thyris­tors and diodes, which I did. I en­joyed see­ing dif­fer­ent plants in some in­te­rior parts of the coun­try.

The turn­ing point in my life

In 1994 I started trav­el­ling over­seas and my first trip was to PCIM (a well-known trade fair) in Ger­many.

We signed our first dis­tri­bu­tion con­tract with an Is­raeli com­pany called Pay­ton Pla­nar Mag­net­ics at PCIM. At that time, I did not know any­thing about high fre­quency trans­form­ers. I was just im­pressed by the tech­nol­ogy, and the Is­raeli com­pany was sur­prised that this young man who had come all the way from In­dia was ready to work with it for the In­dian mar­ket. It was that spirit that made Pay­ton ap­point us as its In­dian rep­re­sen­ta­tive-cumdis­trib­u­tor. I was su­per thrilled and re­mem­ber call­ing my fa­ther from Ger­many to share the news.

Those were the land­mark years of my life, when I wanted to break out from the stan­dard prod­ucts that we were sell­ing. So I trav­elled all across the coun­try, ex­plor­ing all pos­si­ble ap­pli­ca­tions. I met dif­fer­ent cus­tomers in all seg­ments in­clud­ing R&D labs, ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tutes, space and de­fence or­gan­i­sa­tions, as I in­tro­duced Pay­ton Pla­nar’s trans­form­ers. I fi­nally re­alised that we were 10 years ahead of the In­dian mar­ket and there were just no buy­ers.

Those years changed my life. Though we did not sell too many pla­nar trans­form­ers, the ex­pe­ri­ence gave me a com­plete in­sight of the In­dian mar­ket, which was in­valu­able. The Is­raeli com­pany taught me a lot about cus­tomer ser­vice, pro­fes­sion­al­ism, com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills, in­ter­na­tional trade, etc. I am for­ever grate­ful to all the peo­ple who stood by me and had faith in me.

In the mean­time, with­out get­ting de­terred, I con­tin­ued trav­el­ling over­seas and signed dis­tri­bu­tion con­tracts with Behlke Power Elec­tron­ics, Ger­many; EBG, Aus­tria; and also Ad­vanced Power Tech­nolo­gies (APT), USA, right up to 2009.

My idol

I would say that my idol is my fa­ther. He gave me am­ple courage and free­dom to ex­plore, dis­cover and con­struct the busi­ness in the way I wanted to. The only thing that was avail­able to me was his wis­dom and de­ci­sion-mak­ing was my ter­ri­tory. He never blamed me for any ac­tion of mine.

A sat­is­fy­ing jour­ney

The big boost came in1999, when I met peo­ple from IXYS Semi­con­duc­tors in Lam­pertheim, Ger­many. I still re­mem­ber that meet­ing very vividly—it was with An­dreas

Sperner, the VP, sales and mar­ket­ing. The meet­ing con­tin­ued for two to three hours, cov­er­ing top­ics like the In­dian mar­ket, cus­tomer ap­pli­ca­tions, the po­ten­tial of cer­tain prod­ucts, etc. In the end, he said, “Deepak, I like you very much as a per­son and we would love to have you as our dis­trib­u­tor in In­dia. We get so many en­quiries from In­dia but no busi­ness. So how much of busi­ness, in num­bers, do you prom­ise to cre­ate for us?” I looked deep into his eyes and my re­ply was, “Zero!”

There was a short pause and I could sense his con­fu­sion. Here was some­one who had flown in from In­dia to be his com­pany’s dis­trib­u­tor, yet was promis­ing zero busi­ness! It was then that I added, “How about I prom­ise you 100 per cent of the mar­ket—then what we pick from the mar­ket could be a de­ci­sion that we both can take based on strengths and clear in­for­ma­tion, and those would be the real rev­enue num­bers.” That’s when we signed the deal and made an­other big move for­ward.

Some­thing sim­i­lar hap­pened with ABB Semi­con­duc­tors in Switzer­land two years later and, this time, it was in front of the whole ABB top brass—from the MD, to var­i­ous VPs. Af­ter mak­ing a de­tailed pre­sen­ta­tion on mar­kets and fig­ures, I clearly told them that these were my own es­ti­mates, for we did not have any of­fi­cial mar­ket data, sup­ported by real num­bers, in In­dia back then. Hon­estly and sim­plic­ity paid off, and I came home with a con­tract.

From then on, it’s this ap­proach that I have used for the last 16 years, and it has earned us all the dis­trib­u­tor­ships and other con­tracts that we have now. We do not prom­ise to de­liver any busi­ness based on un­ver­i­fied data to our over­seas prin­ci­pals. This has en­abled us to build rock solid re­la­tion­ships, run­ning across decades. This, I would say, is the ma­jor dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion that we cre­ated in the mar­ket.

Even­tu­ally, when our prin­ci­pals re­alised that we were the peo­ple who would pro­mote them well, the bond be­tween us started be­com­ing stronger and cus­tomers started or­der­ing small quan­ti­ties. The cus­tomers re­alised that they could or­der small quan­ti­ties with­out over-com­mit­ting any fu­ture num­bers, for which they got the same at­ten­tion and ser­vice that is nor­mally as­so­ci­ated with large or­ders.

Pleased with our style of work­ing, our sup­pli­ers and cus­tomers started re­fer­ring us to other com­pa­nies. We started adding new prod­uct lines from dif­fer­ent parts of the world and ex­panded our of­fer­ings to the In­dian mar­ket. When­ever we added a new prod­uct to our port­fo­lio, we had to go out into the mar­ket and in­tro­duce it to our cus­tomers. This in­volved ex­ten­sive in­ter­ac­tion with R&D engi­neers, and that’s how our knowl­edge kept grow­ing.

In the early 2000s, the In­dian elec­tron­ics in­dus­try was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a boom. The tele­com mar­ket was boom­ing, new ap­pli­ca­tions were emerg­ing, over­seas com­pa­nies were set­ting up sub­sidiaries and R&D cen­tres in In­dia – in short, In­dia was on the growth path. There wasn’t enough or­gan­ised lo­cal dis­tri­bu­tion in the mar­ket and Pankaj Elec­tron­ics filled that gap, to ev­ery­one’s de­light.

We had the abil­ity to ser­vice var­i­ous elec­tron­ics ap­pli­ca­tions, but we re­mained fo­cused on power elec­tron­ics and some high volt­age ap­pli­ca­tions. Most of what we rep­re­sent are, or were, con­sid­ered bou­tique prod­uct lines and, hence, ex­pen­sive. To this, I al­ways say, there is a mar­ket for ev­ery­thing— one needs to find the right cus­tomer for the right prod­uct. This cer­tainly is not easy in in­dus­trial en­vi­ron­ments, but this is our game. We do not sell com­mod­ity prod­ucts and, hence, Team Pankaj knows that we need to be con­tin­u­ously shar­ing all the new tech­nolo­gies, spe­cial fea­tures and ben­e­fits of our prod­ucts to the de­sign engi­neers, in or­der to make a sale. Prod­uct

lines are added, not be­cause there is a de­mand in the mar­ket and they would be easy to sell, but based on whether they fea­ture a niche tech­nol­ogy with fu­ture busi­ness pos­si­bil­i­ties. This strat­egy drives us as a unit to move be­yond what we al­ready know and do.

The achieve­ments

I con­sider rep­re­sent­ing more than 15 prod­uct lines and ser­vic­ing al­most all pos­si­ble ap­pli­ca­tions in power elec­tron­ics as our achieve­ment. The faith and trust of all our busi­ness part­ners, over the decades, is both our wealth and achieve­ment. This com­mit­ment to look ahead to the fu­ture, has led us to move to SAP as our ERP sys­tem. This was a phe­nom­e­nal ex­er­cise and ex­pe­ri­ence, for a small com­pany like ours, and is a huge achieve­ment for us.

What’s new in the line

Be­sides com­po­nents, we are work­ing on the op­por­tu­ni­ties in sell­ing sys­tems. We al­ready rep­re­sent Sel­frag AG and Astrol AG from Switzer­land. In the com­ing years, this busi­ness will ex­pand, and we will add a va­ri­ety of niche sys­tems in the area of high volt­age, power qual­ity and other ap­pli­ca­tions, to our port­fo­lio.

The set­ting up of our de­sign lab is very re­cent. This was my dream project, so that we could work on spe­cific high-tech pro­grammes along­side the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.

Five years down the line

The de­vel­op­ments in the elec­tron­ics world are never end­ing, and I see Pankaj Elec­tron­ics be­com­ing an or­gan­i­sa­tion that will keep pace with the new op­por­tu­ni­ties and trans­form it­self in pace with the chang­ing times.

Our con­stant en­deav­our will be to use the strength of new tech­nolo­gies to im­prove the com­pet­i­tive edge of our cus­tomers. We have and will con­tinue to ex­pand our prod­uct lines, fo­cus­ing on the lat­est de­vel­op­ments in the elec­tron­ics world.

The ex­pan­sions will come in the com­po­nents busi­ness, sys­tems busi­ness and in de­sign sales. And there will be in­vest­ments and im­prove­ments in back­end op­er­a­tional sys­tems and re­sources as well.

Deepak Methi with his fa­ther S.N. Methi

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